Yes, Representative Axne’s claims of Iowa’s broadband are correct

Following the passing of infrastructure legislation last week, Rep. Cindy Axne tweeted about Iowa’s status as the 45th state in broadband availability in the country. Axne was correct.

Yes%2C+Representative+Axne%E2%80%99s+claims+of+Iowa%E2%80%99s+broadband+are+correct

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Editor


PolitiFact Iowa is a project of The Daily Iowan’s Ethics & Politics Initiative and PolitiFact to help you find the truth in politics.


If your time is short: 

  • Following the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 5, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said Iowa ranked 45th in the U.S. for internet connectivity. 
  • Data from the U.S. Census and the Federal Communications Commission support Axne’s comment on the state of broadband in Iowa. 
  • Expansion of high-speed internet is critical to Iowa’s economic growth, Democrats and Republicans say, but Axne and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are the only members of the state’s congressional delegation to vote “yes” for the infrastructure bill that included funding for internet expansion in the country.

After Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 5, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, wrote in a tweet that her vote for the bill would change Iowa’s ranking as 45th in the nation for internet connectivity.

The bill includes a $550 billion package to fund transportation, broadband and utilities across the country. Specifically, $65 billion is to be spent expanding internet connectivity. At minimum, $100 million is to go to each state, while $42 billion is to be spent on underserved areas. 

Axne tweeted after the House vote:

“Iowa ranks 45th in the U.S. for internet connectivity. Yesterday, I voted to change that forever – by sending the largest rural broadband investment in history to the President’s desk. #IA03”

Saying Iowa ranks poorly for internet connectivity can be used as a political tool to explain a “yes” vote on the bipartisan but also controversial infrastructure bill. But, the statistic also can be used to push points about political opponents who voted “no,” which Democrats are doing to Republicans who opposed the bill. All of Iowa’s Republicans in Congress voted “no” except for Sen. Chuck Grassley, who voted “yes” when the Senate approved the bill in August.

Ian Mariani, communications director for Axne, wrote in an email to PolitiFact that the tweet was referencing a report by BroadbandNow.com. The website reports Iowa’s average state-wide speed as 74.3 megabits per second. Only 18.5 percent of Iowa’s residents have low-price plan access. The website ranks Iowa as 45th in the U.S., for state broadband access, the report said.

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BroadbandNow.com pulls its data from the Federal Communications Commissions and the U.S. Census Bureau. Axne used the source because it ranks states specifically, Mariani said in a phone interview with PolitiFact.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also mentioned Iowa ranking 45th in the nation when introducing her plan to increase broadband access in her second term as governor. She said Iowa also has the second slowest internet in the U.S. and cited BroadbandNow.com in a post on her website. 

Reynolds announced her commitment to the expansion of broadband in Iowa at her January 2021 Condition of the State Address. 

All six Iowans who make up the state’s Washington delegation, including the four voting no on the infrastructure bill, have said they support broadband expansion. 

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, wrote in an Iowa Torch article in May that she supports and wants to move forward with broadband initiatives.

Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, joined the Congressional Rural Broadband Caucus in February to call for internet expansion across the country. His first action in the caucus was to help write a letter to President Joe Biden advocating for broadband expansion.

Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, called on her campaign website for expanded internet connectivity, especially in rural America. And, both Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, have worked with other members of Congress to advocate for broadband in the past year. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported between 2015 and 2019, 80.8% percent of Iowa households had broadband internet subscriptions. Sixteen states had a smaller percentage of its households with subscriptions, including Missouri, Indiana, and North and South Dakota. 

The FCC reported nearly one-fourth of the population in rural America lacks access to broadband service. Across the country, 14.5 million people are impacted.

Our Ruling

Axne tweeted, claiming Iowa was the 45th state in the country for internet connectivity. 

Various sources confirm Iowa falls behind other states, including BroadbandNow.com ranking the state as 45th for state broadband access in comparison to the rest of the United States. 

Axne’s claim of Iowa’s U.S. ranking for broadband connectivity is confirmed through reliable sources, so we rate it True.


Sources

Email exchange and phone interview between Politifact Iowa and Ian Mariani, communications director for Cindy Axne, on Nov. 10, 2021.

Ashley Hinson, “Ashley’s Pro-Economic Growth Legislative Record.”

BroadbandNow.com, Iowa ranking and data sources page

Chuck Grassley press release, “Grassley, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation To Expand Access To Rural Broadband,” July 13, 2021

Chuck Grassley press release, “Grassley Votes to Invest in Iowa’s Future,” Aug. 10, 2021

County Health Ranking, Iowa broadband access report.

Federal Communications Commission, data, “Eighth Broadband Progress Report”.

Forbes, “What’s In The Broadband Component Of The Infrastructure Bill.”

Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network, “Reynolds announces $450M broadband investment.”

Iowa Torch, “Miller-Meeks: Bridging the Digital Divide.”

Joni Ernst, “Ernst, Feenstra Meet with Iowans to Discuss Rural Broadband.”

PolitiFact, “Warren says US broadband lags compared to other nations. She’s close.

Randy Feenstra, “Feenstra Joins Colleagues in Urging the Biden Administration to Prioritize Broadband Infrastructure.”

Tweet from Cindy Axne Nov. 6, 2021. 

U.S. Census Bureau, data

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office, “Creating Universal Broadband Access for Iowans.”

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